Innocent man killed in crossfire outside Buckhead club, police say

He was a regular at Buckhead Loft, often stopping by for a drink and maybe some chicken wings or shrimp. The 36-year-old would often meet his cousin there, according to a club manager.

But early Friday he never made it inside.

The man was shot in the club’s parking lot, later dying from his injuries. Investigators believe he was an innocent victim, caught in the crossfire when an argument inside the bar spilled outside. His name wasn’t released Friday evening pending notification of family members.

“No one else had a scratch. No one else was injured,” a manager told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “He was just a really nice guy. He definitely had nothing to do with the shooting. He didn’t know them.”

The club manager asked not to be identified out of fear for his own safety. He said the cousin of the man killed was inside when shots were fired in the parking lot.

It’s not the typical scene for the club in Buckhead, once the hotbed of Atlanta nightlife. Sam Massell, former Atlanta mayor and current president of the Buckhead Coalition, said there have been no complaints about the Buckhead Loft. Deadly shootings are not common in the area, which draws smaller crowds than two decades ago, thanks to entertainment developments in other areas of Atlanta.

“It’s been quiet for some time,” Massell said Friday afternoon.

In the 90s, Buckhead Village was known for its clubs, bars and restaurants, along with the crowds there on the weekends. But by 2000, that era was coming to an end. High-profile crimes — combined with plans of real estate developers — changed the landscape, which continues to evolve. Buckhead remains the spot for fine dining and high-end shopping.

Atlanta police were called to the Tula Street nightclub shortly after 1:30 a.m. Friday. Investigators interviewed witnesses and obtained surveillance footage from security cameras, but no suspects had been identified late Friday afternoon.

“Preliminary information shows that the shooting was possibly the result of an altercation that started inside the club,” Officer Jarius Daugherty said in an emailed statement. “At this time, it does not appear that the victim was involved in that altercation.”

According to the club manager, between 50 and 60 people were inside when a fight broke out. Those involved were not his regular customers.

“No one knows them,” he said. “The police have the footage and they’re trying to identify them.”

Witnesses told Channel 2 Action News it was chaos inside when shots were fired, with some people ducking under tables.

The Buckhead Loft hopes to have additional security officers working this weekend, when bigger crowds are expected.

“We’re going to deny access for anyone that’s not our regular customers,” the manager said.

Atlanta police said officers will review the club’s permits and make sure the business was compliant with laws. But no information was released to indicate the business was not operating legally.